Money Slipping Through the Cracks?

03/13/2014

Spring time sniffles can only mean high temperatures and high bills are just around the corner. Here at Cromwell, we are always concerned about our clients' expenses. Energy efficiency and sustainable beliefs are at the core of who we are; after all, a company doesn’t exist for over 127 years by focusing on the short term. We don’t do a lot of residential design here at Cromwell, so we wanted to give you a couple of quick tips to help you save money at home. We are going to focus on eliminating the energy waste without changing your lifestyle.

Would you leave a window open while your AC is running in the middle of the summer heat? Many homes are doing the equivalent of this and the owners have no clue. There are countless leaks in the envelope of an average home and, cumulatively, they typically equal the energy loss of fully open windows. These leaks primarily occur around doors and windows, but can occur anywhere in the home. Sealing these leaks is something anyone can do and has a very quick payback in monthly savings. You could also consider getting an insulated cover for the attic side of any attic access. Don’t know what to do? The EPA has released “do it yourself” guidelines to correcting the energy loss from cracks. 

If you want to improve your HVAC efficiency even further, there are a few things you can do. Check you return air filter. If these are excessively dirty, they can greatly restrict air flow and reduce the efficiency of the system. If this is something you already do regularly, add rinsing down the exterior unit as part of your maintenance practices. Dirt accumulation in the exterior fins can reduce the AC’s capability to reject heat and cool the interior. If you are feeling adventurous, take a look at your air ducts. Residential ducts lose over 20% of their air through leaks. This results in a typical house wasting hundreds of dollars every year. These ducts should be insulated and sealed. If you aren’t comfortable tackling this yourself, there are many local companies who specialize in this type of service.

While you are diligently ridding your home of cracks, take a second and verify your hot water tank is set at 120° F. Sometimes these are set at 140° F, while 120° F will adequately meet all your needs. Give it a try and see if you notice a difference. Also take a look and see if your pipes from the tank are insulated. If you have an older hot water tank, it is definitely worth purchasing an insulated wrap for the tank itself along with insulated wraps for the pipes. While you could turn the heater lower, it is not recommended because it will result in an increase in bacteria growth.

These are just some options to reducing your monthly bills. Sealing cracks and ducts may take a while, but it will have a noticeable impact on a monthly basis. The savings from changing water heater settings aren’t as significant, but the modification takes minutes and will save you money long term. There are countless other ways to save energy and reduce bills. Some of which we will address in future articles, but these are key ways you can reduce the energy you are wasting without changing your daily life.